Wilhelmus a Brakel (1635 – 1711) was a prominent Dutch theologian and pastor at the end of the High Orthodoxy in the Netherlands. His magnum opus is The Christian’s Reasonable Service, which is (overall) a marvelous combination of dogmatic and practical theology, certainly in the vein of the Nadere Reformatie tradition. For excellent treatments of the Dutch churchman see Bartel Elshout’s resource-rich site.
Brakel is very careful in describing typology. He argues that, unless clear boundaries are given, every star, tree and worm will turn into a type of Christ at the hands of less-than-skilled interpreters. So he lays down the following rules for a type: “If one is to designate something as a type, the following must be true:”
- It must have been appointed by God to be a type.
- Types had been given to the church of the Old Testament in order that during that time frame she would thereby look unto Christ and believe in Him.
- Types were a necessary component of Old Covenant worship such that those who did not use these types for their intended purpose were in sin.
“When these three criteria are absent, however, one may not appoint or designate something as a type” (Volume IV, p. 382).
At first glance, these seem like excellent rules. Continue reading